Malthus Moment, Immigration Matters, GINIed, Teachers, Pakistan Farce, 2% Limit, Voices, Coming Home, America’s HST, Gold, Kent

Malthus looms down on us from his place in history.

Famously predicting that starvation would dominate the human condition because of the simple arithmetic that rising populations would overwhelm food supply, Malthus was proven wrong in the long term because he underestimated the genius of innovation that resulted in tremendous increases in food supply.

However, like any supply-demand curve there will always be moments of severe disruption, this may be one of them.

Articles also on comparative immigration outcomes, more evidence of income inequality, firing teachers, nasty Pakistan and Libya, fears that the 2% temperature rise will be broken, and why Americans of Japanese descent are worried about radical Muslim hearings in Washington.

Also evidence that manufacturing is coming home to America, why America should tax consumption, why economic collapse is good for gold, and Peter Kent navigates strange spending.

Expensive food.

Telegraph -- Gloomy Malthus provides food for thought as world's appetite builds
For it was Malthus who, in a path-breaking 1798 essay, grimly observed that populations expand geometrically while food supplies increase only arithmetically. In other words, mankind faces serious problems because population growth, by definition, will eventually outstrip the planet’s ability to provide food.


CNBC -- Food, Not Oil, Bigger Threat to Global Inflation?
Food, not oil, may prove to be the bigger threat to global growth, with the pain falling disproportionately upon the developing economies that powered the latest economic recovery.


NYT – Making Every Calorie Count
AS turmoil in Libya pushes up the price of oil, American consumers are once again feeling the sting of $3.50-a-gallon gasoline.



Charlie Fell – A Crude Awakening
Crude oil is back in the spotlight as political upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continues to intensify. 

Occasionally when I make the case for immigration in Canada I am told that immigrants are unskilled, and that Canada’s generous welfare system encourages immigrants to come to Canada at present day taxpayer’s expense.

Wrong on both counts.

First, Canada has the highest percentage of higher education a percentage of the immigration population among comparable high income countries, and although the data is a little too old for our comfort, as a percentage of GDP Canada has one of the lowest levels of social expenditure.

voxed -- Capturing differences between free and controlled immigration: Country bilateral data
Public debate on immigration has increasingly focused on the ageing welfare state amid concerns that unskilled immigrants are a fiscal burden as recipients of the generous welfare state.


More evidence that globalisation has given the bulk of income gains since 1970 to the rich. GINI don’t lie.

Macleans – When Only the Rich Get Richer
The U.S. Economic Policy Insititute offers this fascinating (but also scary) interactive graph. Set the slidders to the dates 1970 and 2008, and it reveals that while average incomes in the U.S. grew by US$12,320, all of the growth went to the richest 10 per cent of the population. Income for the bottom 90 per cent actually declined over that time.


When Income Grows Who Gains?


Pdf below -- The Rise of Canada's Richest 1 Percent

Firing teachers, a hard nut to crack.

WSJ – How Not To Lay Off Teachers
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly said that he favors a repeal of the state's seniority-based system for laying off teachers.

Quote worth quoting.

"You don't lay off cohorts; you lay off individual teachers," says Mr. Daly.


Modeled Behavior – Centrally Planned Education
In the room for debate on “Why Blame the Teachers?” a high school teacher offers this.

Pakistan’s a mess.
WSJ – The Myth of ‘Modern Pakistan’
It's time to bury the myth of moderate Pakistan.

Libya’s Worse.

New York Review of Books – Zero Hour in Benghazi
Two and a half weeks after shrugging off Colonel Qaddafi’s dictatorship, the rebels are continuing their carnival outside the courthouse in Benghazi, the city on Libya’s east coast where they have made their headquarters.

Climate change complacency.

FT -- Urgent steps to stop the climate door closing
There were worrying signs at the World Economic Forum in January that policymakers are becoming dangerously complacent about the scale of our climate change challenge.

The memories of wartime concentration camps fuel fears of Americans of Japanese descent that singling out people that are Muslim may lead to the same place. Thanks to Ken of Tokyo/Hong Kong for sending this in.

Washington Post – Japanese Americans – House Hearings on Radical Islam ‘sinister’
During the chaotic days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Basim Elkarra was passing by an Islamic school in Sacramento when he did a double-take: The windows were covered with thousands of origami cranes - peace symbols that had been created and donated by Japanese Americans.


China’s integration into the global economy since 1979 has been driven by cheap labour, low end manufactured products, efficient transportation systems, and an undervalued currency.  Now more than 30 years on the challenge for China is how to continue grow absent these advantages particularly as one option for high income countries is to bring manufacturing back home. Thanks to Nick of Victoria for sending this in.

Wired – Made in America – Small Business Buck the Off-Shoring Trend
In early 2010, somewhere high above the northern hemisphere, Mark Krywko decided he’d had enough.

We have noted before that America’s fiscal woes could be fixed by increasing taxes as a percentage of GDP which are amongst the lowest of the high income countries. The best place to start, a value added tax on consumption …

Pdf below – A VAT for the United States – Part of the Solution



Economist – The Elephant in the Room
THE Republicans want to cut "wasteful" spending; Barack Obama has proposed a spending freeze on discretionary items such as education and national parks. But the big items are the entitlement programmes—Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—that are set to take up an ever larger part of the American budget.



Independent -- Cuts take Greece to the edge of anarchy as people cry for change
Christos Anastasiou describes his café on Athens's Syntagma Square as "the heart of the war zone". On a quiet day like this, as his customers nurse cold coffees in long glasses in the sunshine, it sounds absurd.

The case for owning gold and silver.

Gold Switzerland – Apres Nous Le Deluge
Happy days are here again!


Quote worth quoting.

“A hyperinflationary depression will destroy the value of money as well as most assets that were financed by the credit bubble (property, stock market).  Wealth protection is now critical and urgent. We see no better way of protecting assets against total destruction than physical gold and silver stored outside the banking system.”

Peter Kent my 2006 St. Paul’s rival moved north to Thornhill and is now the Minister for the Environment. Stupid spending by the Ministry he is responsible for has become the most recent symbol of government waste. In his defence, however, it seems as if the spending occurred when he was not the Minister in charge, and when the issue blew up in his face he handled as you would expect a media pro, very smoothly.

National Post -- Kent caught in storm over devices for schools
It detects extreme weather and has a snooze option, similar to any radio alarm clock, but Environment Minister Peter Kent isn't sure why his government spent nearly $1-million to buy 14,000 "Weatheradios" for schools, Girl Guides and Scouts across the country.

The Rise of Canada's Richest 1 Percent.pdf739.09 KB
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Twin Virtues: Inequality of Outcomes & Equality of Opportunity©

Twin Virtues

Ultimately, the most successful societies find the balance between the twin virtues of inequality of outcomes and equality of opportunity.

The new politics must marry the twin virtues of unequal outcomes and equality of opportunity.

When too few get too much everybody loses.

Feminism is about women living their lives on their own terms, marshalling the resources of the society to make that possible, and men embracing this as vital to a successful society and their own liberation.

Can it be that striving for equality of opportunity however imperfect the process not only benefits the individual but also creates benefits for the society that are unintended but wonderful?

Economics must be a 'moral enterprise' as much as politics claims to be. Economic outcomes need to be framed in terms of right and wrong not just efficiency if only because these often align in surprising ways that are good for society and the economy.

My vision of Canada is that any Canadian child from a family of limited circumstance can expect to have a chance at lifetime of unlimited opportunities.

Free trade is a wonderful thing. Time and time again economists have proven that free trade creates enormous wealth for each country 'on the whole'. Historians have shown that free trade is usually associated with rising political, social and cultural liberty. The perennial problem is that free trade always creates tremendous disruption for thousands even millions of individuals often concentrated in one geography, and where the state is idle, not investing in best in class instruments of social justice, free trade can be a permanent ticket out of the middle class, down, not up.

Tax policy should be founded on the principle of generating steady tax revenues sufficient to maximise environmentally sustainable economic growth in order to fund fair government.

Public policy should be designed to decrease inequality before the law and increase equality of opportunity.

Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.

Content is always more difficult to argue than conspiracy.

Let the state regulate and the market operate (most things).

Welfare strategies are best designed as a hand up, not as a hand out.

Political debate should not be fact free fighting.

Explanation lasts longer than eloquence.

Always favour empowerment over dependency.

The most enduring public figures are embraced for the causes they fought for and not the concept of themselves they hoped others would remember them by.

Find your voice and don't be the echo of somebody else.

It is possible to operate on two different levels: the practical, cautious and conservative; and the realm of ideas, open, free, and radical.